Washington Celebrates Historic Passage of Agoa 3

July 27, 2004
Posted to the web July 27, 2004
Washington, DC

Leaders from the US Congress, the administration, NGO’s, the faith community, the African diplomatic corps and the private sector gathered today to celebrate passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Acceleration Act of 2004 (AGOA 3).

Honorees who spoke at the gala reception organised by AGOA 3 Action Committee and its co-chair Rosa Whitaker included Ambassador Robert Zoellick, the US Trade Representative, Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Congressman Charles Rangel, ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, and Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the House International Relations Committee’s Africa subcommittee.

There was much to celebrate. The Senate defied all precedent on June 24 in approving, by unanimous consent and without change, legislation passed by the House of Representatives in May. Just a few weeks before the Senate action, the Washington Post noted in a July 14 editorial, passage of the AGOA 3 looked “almost impossible”.

Referring to the Action Committee, the editorial continued:

“But an imaginative coalition proved the impossible possible. The business lobby — the standard source of advocacy for trade liberalization — made common cause with surprising partners: religious groups such as Bread for the World, anti-poverty spokesmen such as the rock star Bono, and the Congressional Black Caucus.

Thanks to this coalition, the Africa deal, which gives preferential access to the U.S. market, went through the Senate unopposed.” But, as Whitaker noted, even the most imaginative of coalitions could have achieved nothing without steadfast support and bipartisan leadership, in both Congress and the administration, and the dedication and determination of Africans themselves as represented by their tireless diplomatic corps.

Whitaker paid special tribute to Lisa Barry, vice president and general manager for government affairs at ChevronTexaco and to Alex Cummings and Robert Lindsay, president and vice president respectively of Coca Cola Africa, for their outstanding contribution to the cause. She also expressed the committee’s deep gratitude to her fellow co-chair Jack Kemp, founder and director of Empower America.

AGOA 3 extends AGOA from 2008 to 2015, giving US businesses the certainty they need to consistently include Africa in their global sourcing strategies. It permits the emerging apparel sector in Africa’s poorest countries to keep using competitive inputs to access the US market, while encouraging investment in expanded African textile production. It also offers technical assistance and capacity building

The Action Committee, launched in June 2003, will remain active to ensure AGOA 3’s full and effective implementation, Whitaker said.